Mapplets on own website: illegal???

Today morning Alex - a friend of mine - wrote me a mail, pointing me to a article with the header "Die illegalsten Websites der Welt - Teil 1" (engl. transl: "The most illegal websites of the world - Part 1"). The article had the following german content (direct link):

Homepage: Stadtplan einbinden

Darum geht’s: Wer seine eigene Homepage gestaltet, ist vielleicht versucht, einen Stadtplan – etwa als bessere Anfahrtsskizze – einzubauen. Und weil es so einfach ist, holt er ihn sich von einem Stadtplandienst im Internet, etwa Google Maps oder Map 24.

So gefährlich ist es: Das kann teuer werden. Wer ohne Genehmigung des Dienstes eine Karte für die eigene Site verwendet, verstößt gegen das Urheberrecht. Der Streitwert bei Abmahnungen wird generell extrem hoch angegeben, um den Abgemahnten von einem Prozess abzuschrecken. Denn die Anwaltskosten richten sich in der Regel nach dem Streitwert einer Sache.
I'll try to briefly translate its meaning. The article basically says that there are many people around the web which try to integrate a city map or direction sketch on their personal website. In such a case Google Maps or Map 24 offer nice services. (Google) "Mapplets" offer for instance a nice way for adding a small, interactive and personalized Google Map on ones website (see for instance this sample). According to the article however, placing such maps (including the Google ones) on a website without the permission of the map-data-providing service would violate their copyright. This - so the article - could therefore quickly become quite costly for the website owner due to legal fees.

In my eyes the article is wrong or at least not really written clearly when it says (indirectly) that this violation of the copyright holds also for the Google Maps. This would be totally contrary to the philosophy of the Google Map API and the Mapplets. However to be sure I exchanged some e-mails with Pamela Fox (Google Maps Engineer), which also confirmed me that there is no legal issue with the Google Mapplets or API as long as one stays inside their terms of service. Google has the permission from the data provider to allow the use of their maps by others through the API or Mapplets. Moreover there is usually by default a link on the map pointing to the terms of service and the copyright holders. So as long as those links are clearly visible, everything is fine. What could be a problem is when people create screenshots of the map and place only a part of it on their website (as image) without placing a note of the copyright holder.
I did however not inform myself about the legal situation with the Map24 service.



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